The Pirate Van

My first camper van was a 2003 Dodge Ram conversion van that I called the Black Pearl. This is how I dipped my toes into #vanlife, gave it a try without a serious commitment, and decided that I could live this way.

The Black Pearl was what I call a “no-build van build.” I made few permanent changes to the van, which meant that I could turn my hotel room on wheels back into a regular van in virtually no time at all. The only permanent change that remained with the van was the TP Solar 100 watt flexible solar panel on the roof, plus the associated wiring that runs inside. I designed a system to plug it directly into my Jackery Explorer 240, and included it with the sale of the van for a ready-made basic house electrical system.

Some of the items I used in the Black Pearl will get reused in Spaceball 1 as well. All in all it was an excellent first step toward van life. Ultimately I chose to sell the Dodge because it was too unreliable for extended travel. It’s still good for weekends away, but I wanted more, so it will spend its retirement as a weekend warrior.

Here’s what was inside the Black Pearl.